Page images
PDF
EPUB

poses of pleasure and debauchery, such as is not fit to be named;

as

Vitæ summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare

longam, Jam te premet nox, &c. Others being disappointed of pleasựre, and harrassed with the common evils of life, and foreseeing no future light, added to their ignorance impatience, and to impatience suicide, the natural offspring of infidelity and disappointment. But, God be thanked, we are not under this cloud of ignorance; we are not oppressed with the terrors of perpetual darkness: we are sured, that although heaviness may endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning. Our faith is taught to penetrate beyond the regions of darkness to a more glorious light, with which all the afflictions of this present time are not worthy to be compared. Nothing terrible should be apprehended from that night, which will at length deliver us up to the great day of Eternity. What can support us under the loss of our friends, but this consideration ? No man is afflicted when his friend goes to sleep, because he expects to meet him again when he is

awake,

awake. And why can we not follow him to the grave with the like assurance? St. Paul instructed his Thessalonians, “ concerning 6 them which are a-sleep, not to sorrow as “ others which have no hope*;" not to be overcome with the despair of heathens, while they entertained the faith of Christians: as if he had said, "

your brethren “ who are departed being only fallen a-sleep, “ it would ill become you to lament them

as if they were dead and had perished.” Such hopeless lamentation is as contrary to our profession as to theirs; so that when we lose a friend, we should support ourselves upon such a trying occasion with this comfortable reflection--He is not dead, but sleepeth.

XIII. It may be some discouragement, when we consider that the Sleep of Death is so much longer and deeper than that of our natural rest. But no man is sensible of the length of that sleep from which he awakes in the morning: he has no sense of the progression of time, and seems to have slept but a moment: The interval betwixt death and the resurrection may seem equally short.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Adam and his last-departed son may perceive no difference; and a thousand years may possibly appear to them as it does to God, even as one day. Neither ought we to apprehend any difficulty from the depth and soundness of the Sleep of Death. It is observed that no noise so soon awakens a man as that of an human voice; especially if that voice calls upon him by his proper name. Now the Scripture hath given us to understand, that we shall be called up by an human voice, even that of the Son of

“ for the hour is coming, and now “ is, when they that are in the graves shall “ hear his voice, and shall come forth.” We cannot determine whether this voice shall call upon us by name; though it is not improbable ; for when Peter raised the disciple at Joppa, he said, Tabitha arise;" and when Christ called upon his dead friend, he said, “ Lazarus come forth.But whatever may become of this conjecture, the conclusion will remain certain, that it is as easy for the Son of man to call the dead from their graves, as for us to awaken & person out of Sleep.

man :

[ocr errors]

John v. 28

XIV. It is a matter of infinite importance to us how we are likely to rest in our last Sleep : for which purpose these few directions are necessary to be observed, and are proper to the subject. Let it be remembered then, that as they who spend the day in idleness, and the evening in riot and excess, never rest well in the night: so they whose hearts are overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, will hereafter be disturbed with the fearful watchings of a distempered mind, and annoyed with the fumes of a guilty conscience: they will be “ scared with dreams, “ and terrified with visions, and be full of “ tossings to and fro till the dawning of “ the day?.” But he who hath employed himself in the preceding day by working out his Salvation, will rest the better for it in the night; for the Sleep of a labouring man is sweet b.

Extremes are here to be avoided as upon other occasions. It is agreed that the most comfortable rest is preceded by moderate eating; and that absolute emptiness may breed as much disquiet as surfeiting and ex

· Job vii, 4.

Eccl. v. 12.

2 3

cess.

cess. The hungry man dreameth and behold he eateth, but he awaketh and his soul is empty. No man therefore should depart from this world, till he hath first sat down to the supper of the Lamb; for this is the pledge of his future resurrection; the , viaticum, in the strength of which he is to pass through the shadow of death. If God is pleased to grant the opportunity upon a death-bed, this last duty should never be neglected. Then we may lay ourselves “ down in peace and take our rest, for « the Lord will make us to dwell in " safety;" or, as the disciples said to Christ concerning Lazarus, If thus we steep, we shall do well."

XV. The uniformity of expression concerning our present subject, which is so observable in the Old and New Testament, must necessarily imply an uniformity of doctrine. The gospel hath illustrated the doctrine of a resurrection by a metaphorical allusion to sleeping and waking; but in só doing it hath only adopted the language of the Law and the Prophets. As the same mode of expression, so the same doctrine is common to the two Revelations of Moses and of Jesus Christ. The Patriarchs and

« PreviousContinue »